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A StandUp Woman
She had everything going for her, until God called her. Then her life changed dramatically. Today, however, she knows she is right where He wants her to be, and she loves it.

Let’s go back to the very beginning of time, when God did something better than good. God did something great, monumental and stupendous. God created golf. But only for the seventh day.

If you can’t laugh at Adam and Eve and Noah, there’s a problem,” declares Judy Savoy of Halifax. Her one-woman show, Get Me Back to the Garden, I’m Chokin’ on the Weeds has been delighting audiences across the continent.

And then God said, let’s make a softer version of man. Something that will retain water, love chocolate and never tire of rearranging the furniture.

I can just hear Noah’s wife when she finds him on the front lawn building a boat the size of Costco. “Noah, you’re hard of hearing. God did not say build an ark. What He probably said was build a park.”

Left on the cutting room floor

Judy was born and raised in Campbellton, New Brunswick, a small town of 8,000 nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A precocious child who could read when she was four, Judy was always near or at the top of her class. By the time she was in high school, she was a straight A student, captain of the basketball and volleyball teams and student council vice-president.

“From an early age, I wanted to be a movie star,” recalls Judy. “In Grade 9, I starred in a comedy. People laughed and I was applauded. It felt like I was home. I knew I wanted to do more of this.”

After high school, Judy continued her studies but soon dropped out to follow her muse. “I got a bit part in a movie called Rip-Off,” recalls Judy. “I had all of six lines. I was inviting all my friends to the premiere when the director called. My part had been cut!”

“Something had changed”

Judy persevered. In 1973, she auditioned and was accepted into the Ryerson Theatre School, where she studied for two and a half years. “My professors said I had talent and should stick to it but I wanted to get a job right away. That’s when I got into television.”

I have everything and I’m only going to get more. So why do I feel so empty?

In 1975, Judy was a receptionist in London, Ontario, and was watching the weather on television one night. “I knew I could do better,” she chuckles. On a whim, she telephoned the producer and talked herself into an audition. “I think it’s a great idea if a girl does the weather, especially if it’s me,” she said. She was hired.

By the mid ’70s, her duties also included reading the news and hosting a noon-hour current-affairs show on radio.

But something was missing. “Though raised a Christian,” says Judy, “I had stopped going to church after high school, stopped believing in God. I figured it was all a myth.”

By then, Judy was a radio and television celebrity. “I was making money for the first time in my life. I had a new car, I rented a three-storey townhouse. I had it made.”

Then, one afternoon, as she sat in front of her house, she thought to herself, Is that all there is? I have everything and I’m only going to get more. So why do I feel so empty?

“That’s when I began to think about God,” says Judy.

One day soon after, Judy sank down to her knees. “Jesus,” she prayed, “if You’re real, I want You in my life, because I’ve really made a mess of it.”

Continues Judy: “I waited for the sky to open, and it didn’t. But I got up off my knees, went downstairs and walked out the door. It seemed that the sky was the most intense blue. The intensity of everything around me was overwhelming. Something had changed.”

An act of obedience

Judy purchased a Bible but didn’t want to go to church. “I’m not a joiner. I don’t like groups. I had to be forced to go to Brownies,” she observes.

Within a month of becoming a Christian, however, Judy was cut from her radio job, which was three-quarters of her income. “Lord, what do you have in mind?” said a tearful Judy. Without knowing why, she contacted a friend in Calgary, hopped on an airplane and walked into a CBC television studio, where she auditioned without any preparation. The producer looked at her and said, “You must have telepathy. We’re looking for somebody to do the weather on the supper-hour show. When can you move?”

In Calgary, Judy started going to church and attending Bible study. “I was thirsty and hungry for the Word of God,” she declares.

A year later, she met a political science student studying to be a lawyer. Married in 1980, they moved back to London where he continued his studies while she became a disc jockey. After a stint in Vancouver, the newlyweds moved to Halifax. One day her husband came home and said, “I think God is calling me to become a minister.” While Judy worked at the CBC, he completed his master of divinity.

By 1991, they were back in London. Judy was now a minister’s wife, raising two sons, teaching drama, involved in church but getting restless creatively. She sensed God wanted her to write but she kept saying no.

“I’m scared,” Judy confessed to a friend over coffee one day. “What if no one likes it?”

“Do it as an act of obedience,” the friend replied. “If you believe God is calling you to write, then you have to write. It doesn’t matter if anybody ever sees it or even likes it!”

Success at last

Encouraged, Judy sat down and created what eventually became Get Me Back to the Garden.

… the show debuted to rave reviews.

Judy naturally gravitated to comedy. “I watched The Ed Sullivan Show to see the comics,” remembers Judy. ”My role model was Carol Burnett.”

Judy worked on the show for over a year and a half, honing dialogue, selecting music, renting a church and even selling the tickets out of a theatre box office.

Her efforts were rewarded. Over 700 people turned out for the premiere in March 1998, and the show debuted to rave reviews.

“I then went home and said, ‘Lord, I’ve done it. I did it as an act of obedience and now I never have to do it again,’” smiles Judy.

On the road again

In 2002, Judy returned to Halifax, her marriage at an end. “Moving back to the Maritimes was the hardest thing I ever did,” says Judy. Worse was to come. Everything she thought was in place—a job in television, a place to live—also fell apart.

So Judy took her show, hired a web designer and a booking agent. “Lord,” she prayed, “I guess this is what you want me to do. Do with it what you will.”

Judy now travels across North America as an inspirational speaker. “I use the show, the comedy, to undergird my testimony—my journey,” says Judy. “It’s really just a new way of bringing the Gospel to a broken world.”

With demand for her as a speaker growing, brisk DVD sales of Get Me Back to the Garden and a new stage play in the works, life has never been better for Judy. “Since 2002, it’s been blessing after blessing,” she says. “I’ve never known such contentment. I believe I am now doing what I was born to do.”

Visit Judy Savoy at www.judysavoy.com.

Ken Ramstead is the associate editor of Faith & Friends.

Originally published in Faith & Friends, April, 2008.

 

 
 
 
 

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